Best Protein Bars – UK Reviews

Protein is THE most important macronutrient when it comes to building muscle and improving body composition. Proteins are made up of amino acids – the building blocks of life and absolutely for muscle building and recovery.

Ideally, consumption of protein should fall somewhere around 1.3 – 2.0 grams per kg of body weight per day. If you’re training hard, you’ll want to stay on the upper end, which means you’ll need to consume quite a considerable amount.

One of the most convenient methods for hitting your protein goals is through bars – grab them on the go and down one after your workout.

Delicious looking protein bar

There are plenty of options to choose from, so let’s take a minute to exam exactly what to look for and a few of the best protein bars on the market.

Our Top Picks at a Glance

Note: There’s a lot more information below but clicking the above links will take you to current prices, further information and customer reviews on Amazon.

What is a Protein Bar?

To put it simply, a protein bar is a nutrition bar that provides larger amounts of protein and small to moderate amounts of carbohydrates and fat. They are also often enriched with vitamins and minerals.

Protein bars are a brilliant way to get extra protein into the daily diet. Because they are wrapped and have a relatively long shelf life, bars can be easily thrown into gym bags or kept in desk drawers as an easy and accessible protein source.

There are several different types of protein bars with some marketed strictly as protein supplementation and others as meal replacement bars. The type you purchase should ultimately rest on your health and fitness goals.

Do Protein Bars Really Work?

As with any form of supplementation, the efficacy of protein bars depends on a number of elements. The theory behind them is that ingesting protein after a workout helps build muscle tissue and improve muscle recovery.

Optimal adaptation to resistance exercise can be enhanced by controlling the type, amount and timing of protein consumed. So, while added protein to the diet via protein bars may indeed be beneficial, there are many factors to consider.

Type of Protein

The type of protein used in your bar of choice is the first point to consider, mainly because all protein is not created equal. Two of the most common types used in protein bars is whey protein and soy protein. While both types contain all of the essential amino acids, whey protein is considerably more bioavailable than soy, making it the superior choice for building muscle mass.

Amount of Protein

You’ve probably noticed while looking at nutrition labels is that the amount of protein in different bars varies quite a bit. How much protein is necessary to elicit the muscle building effects you’re after? Research has shown that 20 grams of protein is sufficient to maximally stimulate muscle protein synthesis.

Timing of Protein

The time you choose to eat a protein bar also has an effect on the efficacy of the protein. Studies have shown that protein consumption pre and post-workout resulted in significant improvements in muscular strength as well as increases in lean body mass and decreases in fat mass compared to ingestion of protein in the morning and evening.

Are Protein Bars Good For You?

They may well offer a convenient and effective way to hit your nutritional targets, but are they actually good for you? That’s a tricky question.

First, you should realise that these bars are considered a processed food. Generally speaking, eating processed foods are not going to make you the healthiest version of yourself.

Second, many protein bars not only offer up hefty doses of protein, they also tote along many other ingredients. If you’ve ever looked at the ingredient list on protein bar wrapper, you know just how many unpronounceable ingredients there really are — most of which are not exactly considered healthy.

Third, some bars are not only loaded with a ton of mysterious ingredients but also artificial sweeteners, excess sugar and more calories than you probably really need.

With all of that being said, there are some companies out there trying to make healthier options for those who rely on protein bars to meet their nutrition and training needs.

There are plenty of protein bars out there that you’d be better off without but there are also more hitting the market every day that are made with real ingredients and may actually be beneficial to your health.

Bottom line: do your research and choose options with ingredients you can identify and with minimal amounts of sugar. You’ll probably have to spend more on those higher quality bars, but if eating healthy is a priority for you, it’s definitely worth it. What you then have is a convenient and relatively healthy way of getting some extra nutrition.

When Is the Best Time to Eat a Protein Bar?

As mentioned above, studies have shown that consuming protein in and around that post-workout window will yield greater training gains than consuming it during other parts of the day.

Protein bars are also useful for filling in nutritional gaps. They can make a handy a protein-rich snack to get you through that afternoon slump and can even be used in a “food emergency” as a meal replacement when you find yourself in a pinch.

It was mentioned above that they aren’t always the healthiest option, but they are leaps and bounds better for you than most other items on the market posing as snack foods.

It’s never a bad idea to have a few quality bars stashed in your desk, car or gym bag to keep those hard working muscles fed.

How to Choose the Ideal Protein Bar

With so many options available, how does one go about choosing the ideal protein bar? For starters, consider taste — it may be the best option on the shelf, but if it tastes like old cardboard, the chances of you actually eating it are pretty low. Aside from palatability, there are several other factors to consider when choosing the best protein bar.

What difference does the type of protein make?

We discussed earlier the importance of the type of protein used in the bar. It’s been shown that whey protein is considerably more effective than soy, mainly due to its bioavailability, for stimulating muscle protein synthesis. However, if you deal with a dairy intolerance, soy may be your only option.

One more factor to consider with protein types is how quickly it absorbs. For example, whey protein creates increases in blood amino acids levels in under an hour — perfect for refeeding post-workout. Casein, on the other hand, takes longer to actually create an increase in blood amino acids, but lasts longer, with elevated levels lasting over 300 minutes. Ideally, it would be best to have a protein bar with both faster and slower digesting protein available.

Do you have to be careful with the amount of sugar and total calories in a protein bar?

When choosing a protein bar it’s a smart idea to get into the habit of checking the label. Some protein bars are loaded with more sugar than a chocolate bar. Calories are also something to watch out for — if you’re not using the bar as a meal replacement, then it shouldn’t have equal or greater calories than a meal. Ideally, sugar content should be in the single digits (grams) and the total calories should not exceed 300 kcals.

Is there anything else you should look for?

Additives and artificial sweeteners should also be on your radar when choosing a high-quality protein bar. Ingredients such as sorbitol and maltitol, sugar alcohols, can cause gas, bloating and have a laxative effect if you’re not used to it or if you ingest more than your body can handle.

Xylitol is another sugar alcohol that looks and tastes like sugar but has fewer calories and doesn’t raise blood sugar levels — perfect for sweetening up a protein bar for the health-minded consumers who are likely to buy them. However, it too has the potential to cause digestive issues.

Fats are also found in protein bars. While unsaturated fats are the good guys, trans fats should never be listed on the label and levels of saturated fats should be relatively low.

A protein bar with some fibre in it will not only help slow down the digestion of the bar and give your body a slow and steady supply of energy, it will also help keep things moving along at a healthy pace.

A Detailed Look at the Best Protein Bars

As you well know, adequate protein is critical if you’re chasing those gains. While whole food options are ideal, they’re not always feasible. If you’re making it a point to choose real food most of the time, there’s plenty of room in a healthy lifestyle for protein bars.

If you’re going to use protein bars, you may as well go with the top ones on the market. To make life a little easier for you, we’ve rounded up the best. But then we went one step further and took a look at the best standard bars and flapjacks — because, let’s face it, sometimes you want to sink your teeth into a chewy bar but other days nothing hits the spot like a tasty flapjack bar like Mum used to make.

Grenade Carb Killa

Grenada Carb Killa High Protein and Low Carb bar delivers 20 grams of protein and only 2 grams of sugar in thirteen different flavours. With a protein blend of caseinate and whey protein isolate, you’ll get an immediate as well as a sustained serving of quality protein.

This low-carb bar comes in at just over 200 calories, making it perfect for a post-workout muscle feed or a healthy choice midday snack. Whether you’re bulking or cutting, these bars will have a place in your nutrition planning.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Allergen Information: Contains: Milk, Soy
  • Safety Warning: For allergens see ingredients in Bold
  • Serving Size: 60 g
  • Bars per Box: 12
  • Protein: 20 g
  • Storage Instructions: Store at a temperature range of 15°c to 22 °c, away from direct sunlight, extremes of heat change, odour and humidity
Things We Like
  • Blend of caseinate and whey protein isolate
  • Generous serving of protein
  • Low sugar content
  • Multiple flavour options
  • Certified with the Informed Sport programme
Things we don’t like
  • A little on the expensive side
  • Contains sugar alcohols

Summary

Overall, the Grenade Carb Killa bar is a solid choice if you’re alright paying a little more for them.

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PhD Smart Bar

Available in six flavours, the PhD Smart Bar packs a tasty 20 g of protein with 2 g of sugar or less per bar. For less than 250 calories this bar offers a tasty and affordable option for filling your protein needs.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Allergen Information: Contains: Milk, Soy
  • Serving Size: 64 g
  • Bars per Box: 12
  • Protein: 20 g
  • Storage Instructions: In a cool, dry place
  • Format: Chewables
Things We Like
  • Affordable
  • 20 grams of protein
  • Palm oil free
  • Multiple flavours to choose from
Things we don’t like
  • Protein blend contains soy
  • Contains multiple sugar alcohols
  • Higher carbohydrate content
  • High in saturated fats

Summary

While the PhD Smart bar comes in at an affordable price, keep in mind it does have a higher carb and fat content, which may not benefit some specific dietary goals.

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Maximuscle Promax Lean

With six flavours to choose from, the Maximuscle Promax Lean bar offers an option for every taste.

This bar not only comes with 20 g of protein but has also smartly incorporated seven grams of fibre, green tea extract and managed to keep the calories, carbs, fat and sugar content relatively low.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Serving Size: 55 g
  • Bars per box: 12
  • Protein: 20 g
  • Storage Instructions: In a cool and dry place
Things We Like
  • 20 grams of protein
  • Informed-sport accredited
  • Six flavour options
  • Green tea extract
  • Seven grams of fibre
Things we don’t like
  • Milk and soy protein blend
  • Contains multiple sugar alcohols
  • On the expensive side

Summary

The Maximuscle Promax Lean bar seems to have it all – adequate protein, good taste, decent price tag and a respectable macro profile. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, you may want to limit your intake because of the added green tea extract.

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BodyMe Organic Vegan Protein Bar

The BodyMe Organic Vegan Protein bar is the perfect option for those wishing to keep their protein plant based. Using a combination of organic pea protein, organic sprouted brown rice protein, and organic hemp seed protein, this bar provides 16 grams of complete vegan protein.

Made with 100% organic ingredients, this bar offers clean fuel options for those looking for an all-natural bar.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Ingredients: BodyMe vegan protein blend (organic pea protein, organic sprouted brown rice protein, organic hemp seed protein), organic cashews, organic coconut nectar, organic dates, organic chia seeds, organic maca, organic cinnamon, organic coconut oil, sea salt.
  • Allergen Information: Contains: Cashews
  • Serving Size: 60g
  • Bars per box: 12
Things We Like
  • Gluten-FREE
  • Soy-FREE
  • Dairy-FREE
  • Whey-FREE
  • Bake-FREE
  • NO added refined sugar
  • Combination of plant-based proteins to offer a complete protein source
  • Multiple flavour options
  • Good source of some vitamins and minerals
Things we don’t like
  • Less than 20 grams of protein
  • Big price tag

Summary

As an all-natural and organic protein bar, the BodyMe Organic Vegan Protein Bar is pretty impressive. While it does come with a hefty price tag, considering the whole-food ingredients, the complete plant protein profile and the macro ratio, it’s worth the cost.

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Bulk Powders Macro Munch Protein Bar

Bulk Powders Macro Munch Protein Bar is a soft baked bar that comes in five different flavour options. The bar delivers 20 g of protein with less than three grams of sugar and nearly eight grams of fill-you-up fibre.

A moderate price tag makes these bars a convenient and affordable way to meet your on-the-go protein needs.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Allergen Information: Contains: Milk
  • Serving Size: 62 g
  • Bars per box: 12
  • Protein: 20 g
Things We Like
  • Less than three grams of sugar
  • 20 g of protein
  • 8.7 g of fibre
  • Five flavour options
Things we don’t like
  • Milk and soy protein blend
  • Large ingredient list
  • Higher saturated fat content
  • Contains sugar alcohols
  • On the expensive side

Summary

The Bulk Powders Macro Munch Protein Bar delivers 20 quality grams of protein and over eight grams of fibre to fuel your muscles and keep you satisfied.

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Flapjack Bars

SCI-MX Nutrition PRO 2GO Flapjack

The SCI-MX Flapjack boasts 21 grams of protein and 38 grams of carbohydrates, making it the perfect go-to for those working to bulk.

The protein sourced from whey and milk is highly bioavailable and the multiple flavour options give you plenty of choices. Milled oats and flaxseed round out the bar to make it a satisfying post-workout or midday munch.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • 1 g EFA’s and 1 g BCAA’s
  • Serving Size: 80 g
  • Bars per Box: 24
  • Protein 21 g
Things We Like
  • Whey and milk protein blend
  • More than 20 g of protein
  • Low in sugar
  • High in healthy carbs
  • Contains 1 gram of BCAAs
  • Box contains 24 bars
Things we don’t like
  • Low fibre content
  • Limited flavour options

Summary

The SCI-MX flapjack offers exactly what you need to refuel after a hard gym session or keep you going through a tough afternoon at work.

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LUX Protein Flapjack

The LUX Protein Flapjack bar is your natural, delicious source to 20 g of protein, 33 g of carbs and nearly 9 g of fibre.

Coming in at a very affordable price, this Chocolate Chunk flapjack will fill your needs any time of day without overloading you on sugar.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Allergen Information: Contains: Milk, Oat, Soy, Cereals containing Gluten, Tree Nuts
  • Serving Size: 75 g
  • Bars per Box: 12
Things We Like
  • Contains 20 g of protein
  • Contains no artificial sweeteners, colours or preservatives
  • Short ingredient list
  • Milk protein
  • Affordable price
Things we don’t like
  • Only one flavour to choose from

Summary

If you’re not picky about flavour options, the LUX Protein Flapjack may be just the bar for you. Compared to its competitors, it has a nice short ingredient list with words you can understand, 20 solid grams of protein, moderate carbs, high fibre and low sugar, making it great for post-workout or an easy breakfast on the way to the office.

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PhD Nutrition Protein Flapjack+

For a fair price, strength and endurance athletes can opt for the PhD Nutrition Protein Flapjack+ to fill both their protein and carbohydrate needs.

With 19 grams of protein, a whopping 43 grams of carbs, an impressive 2 grams of sugar, and three flavour options to choose from, you’ll find just what you’re looking for with this flapjack.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Allergen Information: Contains: Soy, Oat, Milk, Barley, Peanuts
  • Safety Warning: Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. Store out of reach of children.
  • Bars per box: 12
  • Storage Instructions: In a cool, dry place
  • Format: Chewables
  • Serving Size: 75g
Things We Like
  • Blend of whey protein and milk protein isolate
  • Low in sugar
  • Affordable
Things we don’t like
  • Less than 20 g of protein
  • Only three flavour options
  • Low in fibre

Summary

If you’re in a bulking phase and looking for a quickly digesting flapjack to grab on your way out of the gym, give the PhD Nutrition Protein Flapjack+ a try.

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Warrior Raw Protein Flapjack

Warrior Raw Protein Flapjack comes in three delicious flavours with plenty of protein to fill your training needs. With just under nine grams of fibre, the bar will supply your muscles with a lasting supply of much-needed energy in or out of the gym.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Product Name: High Protein Flapjack Bar
  • Serving Size: 75 g
  • Bars per Box: 12
Things We Like
  • 20 g of protein
  • Milk and gelatine protein blend
  • High fibre
  • Fair price tag
  • Fairly simple ingredient list
  • Low in saturated fat
Things we don’t like
  • Only three flavour options

Summary

Warrior Raw Protein Flapjack bars come in at a fair price and a respectable macronutrient profile, however, with only three flavour options you’re rather limited on choices.

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CNP Professional Protein Flapjacks

The CNP Professional Protein Flapjack bar offers 18 grams of protein with a new soft baked recipe. Low sugar, just over 30 grams of carbs and around 260 calories per bar makes this flapjack the perfect pre or post-workout pick-me-up.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Serving Size: 75 g
  • Bars per Box: 12
Things We Like
  • Milk and whey protein blend
  • Affordable
Things we don’t like
  • Less than 20 grams of protein
  • Contains sugar alcohols

Summary

If you’re happy getting less than 20 grams of protein from your flapjack but more than happy to spend a little less, give the CNP Professional Protein flapjack bar a go.

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Conclusion

Life is busy and, while they may not be the ideal health food, protein bars and flapjacks are, without a doubt, part of the health and fitness landscape. It cannot be denied that they are extremely convenient, particularly post workout. As you can see, there are some quality, affordable options out there, no matter your specific taste, that will help you reach your training goals.

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